Biblical Training

In order to serve the churches effectively, MERF has established ministry centers in Larnaca (Cyprus), Lokichoggio (northwestern Kenya), Cairo (Egypt), Beirut (Lebanon), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Sulawesi and Java (Indonesia). These centers provide biblical training opportunities for local workers. They also include libraries and research facilities which are made available for pastors and others to strengthen their scriptural and theological knowledge in a practical way through structured or independent study to equip them for effective ministries. MERF offers three distinct, yet interrelated programs. Each is named after a prominent church father indigenous to the region.

The Augustine Program

Augustine (354-430), a sound North African church father, represents the glorious past of the Christian heritage for this part of the world. This program is designed for pastors and lay leaders to help them gain further practical knowledge of the Scriptures and theology without leaving their fields of ministry for a long time. Thus, it serves as the backbone of all MERF's training endeavors. The main strategy of the program is to provide as much helpful training to as many leaders as possible at the most reasonable cost. This is done through organized study terms for selected groups of trainees. Some of those who go through such training are selected for more intensive training in research terms which are designed for smaller groups. Moreover, MERF organizes other regional training activities, including conferences, workshops, seminars, etc., under the sponsorship and oversight of local ecclesiastical bodies.

The Athanasius Program

Athanasius of Alexandria (296-372) was an important figure in church history who valiantly defended the doctrine of Christ, which constitutes the major obstacle to Muslims. The strategy of the program is to provide intensive training to the most qualified of the Muslim converts. The program aims to give an adequate knowledge of the Scriptures and basic doctrines as well as the tools for the study and teaching of Bible to others. Since no professional pastors can be provided in most Muslim countries, this program is geared to provide solid lay leadership for these converts, to instruct them in the Scriptures, until they are able to make public professions of faith and become part of organized local churches.

The John of Damascus Program

Following the example of the knowledge, courage and zeal of John of Damascus (675-749), MERF seeks to offer this program as a service to Western believers and others. It is designed for those who are especially drawn to serve Christ among immigrants in their own countries. The strategy of the program is to orient qualified individuals for effective outreach among Muslims. In addition to the study of Muslim beliefs, practices and history, the program provides insights into Muslim cultures and societies. Also, attention is given to current trends and developments in the Muslim world. Some firsthand experience in short periods of internship with some churches in field countries is possible as part of this program.

The John Calvin Centre

In order to serve the churches effectively, MERF has established in Cyprus the John Calvin Center for training and study. The research facilities are available for pastors and others to strengthen their scriptural and theological knowledge in a practical way through structured or independent study to equip them for effective ministries. This includes a growing library of literature and audiovisual materials on a wide range of topics.

Athanasius Program

MERF's Athanasius Program brings individuals and small groups of converts out of their hostile Islamic environment for in-depth Bible training.

These letters illustrate their great need for scriptural armament to face the isolation and pressure of the Muslim world:

From Saudi Arabia:

I am a Muslim by birth, not because I chose Islam but because my father chose it for me and I found myself Muslim without choice...Now I have discovered the truth of the one who said, "Look unto me and be saved."(Isaiah 45:22) I need your help. Please help me...How could I escape my present tragic circumstances? If they know of my new faith I will definitely have my head cut off after much torture. Help me please.

From Egypt:

Since believing in Christ I have come to realize how important is the Christian faith for my family and society...I have a desire to grow in my relationship to the Christ and to be able to teach others in my family and neighborhood. I would like to see a group of them follow the Savior but I need to learn much. Will you teach me?

The early church father from the Middle East, Athanasius of Alexandria (296-372), proclaimed boldly the uniqueness of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, more and more Muslims are coming in faith to the true Lord and Savior.

Through the Athanasius Program you can join in nurturing the faith of these new believers, arming them with God's Word to live boldly in a hostile Islamic community. The strategy of the program is to provide intensive training to the most qualified of the converts. The program equips them with an adequate knowledge of the Scriptures and basic doctrines, as well as tools for the study and teaching of the Bible to others. Since no professional pastors can be provided in most Muslim countries, this program is geared to building solid lay leadership for these converts.

MERF requests your help to nurture Muslim converts in the Christian faith through the Athanasius Program. Your prayerful support is most needed!

Augustine Program

Purpose:

To provide applied biblical training for God's people in the region to consciously integrate their lives and ministries, "to be diligent and to present themselves approved to God as workmen who do not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15 & 3:16,17).

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Church Extension

New Bodies of Believers

Through the use of the radio, the witness of nationals, the use of literature and other means, many have come to know Christ in lands which have no churches. MERF recognizes the genuine needs of such scattered believers in terms of instruction and follow-up. It is ultimately, however, the work of the Church and not MERF to gather and shepherd them in their own places. Consequently, MERF seeks to point out these opportunities to suitable indigenous churches and helps them as they oversee the nourishment of these converts. The objective is to properly relate them to each other, with a view toward organizing them into healthy congregations under the oversight of the regional churches.

Existing Congregations

MERF also seeks to encourage the growth and extension of existing congregations by means of providing suitable training and literature, as well as by evangelistic projects in needy areas targeted by these congregations. MERF's involvement in church-extension is governed by two major principles. On the one hand, MERF is committed to the centrality of ecclesiastical oversight at every step of each church- extension operation. On the other hand, MERF will only help and support church-extension projects which are properly under the oversight of ecclesiastical bodies and which are clearly aimed at establishing faithful churches.

Diaconal Aid

"Doing good unto all men, especially unto those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10) clearly establishes MERF's obligation as well as its system of priorities in providing for the needy.

Following are some foundational principles regarding this ministry:

  1. MERF will not employ or support any staff for the sole purpose of administering aid.
  2. All secured diaconal funds must be used only for meeting the needs of those for whom the funds are designated. Under no circumstances should payments be made towards the process of distribution itself. Those who participate in the distribution must do so on a voluntary and sacrificial basis.
  3. The first priority shall be for the needs of evangelical Christians. The second priority is for the needs of other Christians. The third priority will be for the needs of others.
  4. Aid to non-evangelical Christians and others shall be part of the Gospel witness of the local community of believers.
  5. Primarily, diaconal aid is to be administered not in terms of cash but by means of supplies and services.
  6. The diaconal aid must aim at encouraging the beneficiaries towards hard work and the seeking of reasonable, sustaining jobs. The objective is to equip them not only to take care of themselves and their loved ones but also live a life of sacrificial giving.

For examples of some of our diaconal aid ministries, see our Fields page.